- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - Competition is fierce for a couple of seats on a western Kentucky utility board that recently saw rate increases.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports one seat on the Kenergy Corp. board that represents west Daviess County has an 18-year incumbent facing two challengers.

Larry Elder says it’s the first time he’s had competition for the seat.

“I think it’s because of the rate increases from Big Rivers with Century Aluminum leaving the system,” Elder said.

Big Rivers Electric Corp. is the wholesale power supplier for Kenergy and two other distributive co-ops in western Kentucky. Altogether, they serve about 112,000 customers in 22 counties.

Century Aluminum’s two smelters have left the Big Rivers’ system and are purchasing power on the open market. Since then, Big Rivers has had to cut costs and increase rates for remaining customers.

Elder’s challengers include funeral home operator Billy Boyle and Sean Byrne, plant manager of Century Aluminum in Hawesville.

Byrne said his company did not ask him to run for a seat on the utility board.

“This is about me as a rate-payer in District 6,” he said. “I will bring a different perspective on how to efficiently operate a business from opening a couple of car washes on my own and from being a plant manager. You have to learn to be efficient to stay in business.”

He said one goal would be to appoint appropriate members to the Big Rivers board.

“We need a fresh perspective, and we need to challenge appropriately.”

Boyle said the recent rate increases were a big part of why he decided to seek a seat on the board.

“I believe that Big Rivers has some issues,” he said. “The Century Aluminum thing highlights the problems they have. Basically, electricity is more expensive than we wish it was.”

Meanwhile, Richard A. Basham, a Domtar paper employee in Hawesville is challenging incumbent Brent Wigginton, who is the Lewisport city administrator for another seat on the 11-member board.

Board election results will be announced on June 10.

___

Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, https://www.messenger-inquirer.com


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